A Prayer To Develop Mercy Towards Others
What Is the Mercy Prayer?
What if the mercy prayer, “Lord, have mercy,” was not only the most prayed prayer in the Bible but in your life as well? Many Christians through the ages believed that this should be the case.
We have so much to learn from Christians who are different than us.
I grew up as a Southern Baptist. Then I spent eight wonderful years in a Presbyterian church. Today, I’m the pastor of an independent, interdenominational church.
We aren’t officially associated with any particular denomination not because we believe the denominations are bad; rather, we desire to look back over the last two thousand years and see what we have to learn from all the different groups of people that have followed Christ.
The different labels – Baptist, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Lutheran, Episcopal, Catholic, and the list goes on – simply represent the variety of ways and approaches others have taken in following Jesus.
One denomination has majored on the mercy of God: the Eastern Orthodox church. For almost two thousand years this segment of Christianity has made the mercy of God central to their understanding of the meaning of following Jesus – especially when it comes to prayer. They recognize that Daniel was right when he prayed,We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. – Daniel 9:18
The Eastern Orthodox church is rather unknown to most Western Christians. These followers of Jesus are mostly located in Russia, Greece, the Middle East, and Africa. When it comes to understanding the most prayed prayer, we would do well to learn from them.
The Mercy Prayer in the Psalms
Their theologians first recognized our tendency to pray for God’s mercy. They were the ones to remark on how common it was for the people of God to cry out to Him for mercy in the Psalms:
Answer me when I call to You,
O my righteous God.
Give me relief from my distress;
be merciful to me and hear my prayer.
– Psalm 4:1
Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am faint;
O Lord, heal me, for my bones are in agony.
– Psalm 6:2
O Lord, see how my enemies persecute me!
Have mercy and lift me up from the gates of death.
– Psalm 9:13
Hear my cry for mercy
as I call to You for help,
as I lift up my hands toward Your Most Holy Place.
– Psalm 28:2
To You, O Lord, I called;
to the Lord I cried for mercy.
– Psalm 30:8
It was also the Orthodox that noticed that the one sentence spoken to Jesus more than any other was, “Kyrieeleison.” This branch of Christianity pointed out that all of us are in a line leading to God’s courtroom, and we all have one hope in that setting: that God is merciful.They even began to ask, could it be that the closer you get to God the more you pray the mercy prayer? What if our closeness to Christ actually increases the frequency of our requests for His mercy?
We normally think the opposite – something this: I was living a really bad life and was in need of mercy. But once I embraced Jesus and asked Him into my heart, He took the burden of sin off of me. Now I can leave behind the consequences of my sin, move on, and grow closer to God.
Our Mercy Prayer Intensifies the Closer We Get to God
Eastern Orthodox believers say the opposite is true. Our recognition of our need for mercy only intensifies the closer we get to God. It’s as if the cross awakens our appetite for His compassion. We actually desire God’s mercy more the closer we get to Him, not only because we see our shortcomings in light of His perfection but also because knowing God is knowing that He is merciful.
This is a lesson we can see illustrated in the tabernacle found in the Old Testament.
The architecture of this ancient worship space communicated the spiritual life in tangible reality. As worshippers walked into the tabernacle, they saw a large courtyard with a number of furnishings signifying different aspects of knowing God.
The large basin of water represented cleansing. Burning incense signified the prayers of God’s people. Furthest away from the entrance, deepest within the tabernacle, was the Holy of Holies. To enter that space was to enter the presence of God.
The closer one was to this most holy place, the closer one was to God’s glory. Very few people were actually allowed to enter this sacred room. But if you were to go in beyond the veil and enter, you would see the ark of the covenant – the throne of God.
What was the name given to the throne? The mercy seat!
Watch The Mercy Prayer Video
Excerpted from The Mercy Prayer: The One Prayer Jesus Always Answers by Robert Gelinas, copyright Thomas Nelson, 2013.
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How has your understanding for your need for mercy changed as you’ve grown closer to God? As you’ve sought His face has it intensified? Come join the conversation on our blog! We would love to hear from you!
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Find It Only Here On Friday: A Christmas Prayer for Messengers of Mercy
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David “JB” Miller is founder and Chief Encouragement Officer at LifeLetter Ministries.He and his wife Cheri make their home in beautiful Phoenix, Arizona
and have six children and six grandchildren they absolutely adore.
David is also an inspiring regular contributor (LifeWriter) here at LifeLetter Café
and is today’s featured contributor to “Find It Only Here On Friday”.
His Café exclusive “A Christmas Prayer for Messengers of Mercy”
can be found below . . BUT FIRST . .
the Café thought you just might want to know
how an Encouragement Leader David “JB” Miller
has been encouraged in his own faith recently.
In his own words …
A career door that had swung open suddenly slammed shut,leaving my wife and I bewildered. Logic was nowhere to be foundand fatigue had become a far too familiar partner.We needed to rest, reposition and reset our course towards opportunity next
with limited time and even more limited resources.
Our vulnerability opened the door for His availability and provision.
A reunion with old friends over a scrumptious dinner
filled hungry bellies and warmed souls on fumes.
A home away from home allowed us to catch our breath.
A temp job restocked a thirsty bank account.
Compassionate and generous support from many different directions over many miles
made a return trip back home far more manageable.
Our malaise was over-matched by God’s mercy –
our want had simply become His well.
Immanuel had come close once again to remind us . .
“I’ve got this – you’re safe in My presence – all is well.”
George Bailey got to a place
of desperation and prayed this prayer …
“God, dear Father in heaven, I’m not a praying man,
but if you’re up there and you can hear me, show me the way.
I’m at the end of my rope, show me the way, God.
Seconds after Jimmy Stewart’s character begged for heaven’s help, life took an even uglier turn.
George Bailey gets punched in the face, wrecks his car, gets stranded in the snow and screams out to God,
“That’s what I get for praying.”
Hopeless circumstances were devouring Bailey’s joy and he strongly entertained the idea that it might have been far better if he never had been born – then, and only then, is when God finally showed up.
You no doubt realize …
that many “George Bailey’s” are under the influence of your ministry (some you even know by name, while the majority silently slip right on by) . . and if we were all purely honest, hardly a life is lived anywhere on the planet that doesn’t arrive at least once at a similar point of desperation.
We as Christian Ministry Leaders are wired to reach out to the George Bailey’s in close range with a buffet of Christian ministry “systems” or personal “do’s” – things support groups, grief seminars, small groups, targeted counseling, topical sermons, self-help books, intervention etc. By default, we all naturally fall into our “Messenger of Mercy” roles, but in God’s unsearchable wisdom, more is always caught than taught and it is our “who” that becomes the primary glue for a soul yearning for hope once again.While our calling for sure is to faithfully message God’s mercy, it is our own personal encounter and relationship with mercy itself that God desires to be the substance of our ministry.
So my Christmas Prayer for you this December is that God might grant you four kinds of soul-renewing, life-restoring “mercy moments” . . both in the scurry of the holidays and all through the year ahead.
Remember When You Met Him
Christmas is a season of treasuring miracles – remember your most pivotal personal miracle, when God first became real – when a Savior gave you what you needed instead of what you deserved – and changed the trajectory of your life from lost to found.
To do so keeps us centered in gratitude, and gratitude is the only sustainable platform from which can lead and serve others.
Mary did and was prepared to respond to a life-altering angelic birth announcement with a “I am the Lord’s servant” mentality, no matter what may come.
“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant . .His mercy extends to those who fear him,from generation to generation.”
– Luke 1:46-48, 50 –
See Him In Your Everyday
In a nutshell, the wonder and awe of Christmas is God choosing to reveal Himself – but not from a distance; rather, from right in our midst. Fast forward 33 years and “so close yet so far” was the headline of the day for the remaining disciples after walking with Jesus for 3 years .
. until their eyes were opened. God still reveals Himself in miraculous ways today – how did He show up and provision your life in 2016? If we be intentional about getting off the hurry wagon and come to His table early and often, we give our soul a chance to reconnect with our Immanuel.
“While He was reclining at the table with them,He took bread, spoke a blessing and broke it, and gave it to them.Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Jesus ..”
– Luke 24:30-31 –
Embrace Him In His Silence In Your Wilderness Chapter
He won’t spare your sojourn on this planet a trip to and through the wilderness, for He wishes to develop a “sacrifice of love for others” pattern in your leadership and service much the one displayed in the life of His own Son – this reveals authenticity and keeps your hands and reputation free of a glory-grab. the movie “God Is Not Dead 2” states, “The teacher is most quiet during the test.”
“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little whileyou may have had to suffer various trials, so that the authenticity of your faith —more precious than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire —may result in praise, glory,and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
– 1 Peter 1:6-7 –
Give Him Your All
God’s mercy did not hold back but freely and generously give us His ALL – this is THE message of Christmas. We have the assurance of receiving all we need when we allow Him to develop a “pursue one thing” mentality in our soul that stokes our love for the kingdom and glory of God ONLY . . much what was on display when the angels shouted “Glory to God in the highest” (Luke 2:14)
“’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your souland with all your strength and with all your mind’;and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’.”
– Luke 10:27 –
“Seek first His kingdom and His righteousnessand all these things will be given to you as well.”
– Matthew 6:33 –
My Christmas Prayer …
Father, help us to never forget when Mercy first found us
in utter shame and spiritual poverty and claimed us as part of your forever family.
Help us to be at rest in Your unceasing presence –
open our eyes anew to the miracle of receiving our daily bread for body, soul and spirit
from Your very hand.
Grant us endurance and the grace to embrace our cross
and to do so free of self-pitying resentment.
And grant us by Your grace a more and more-pure love for your glory alone
that will make us unmistakable and irresistible Messengers of Mercy.
We wish you a very “mercy” Christmas!
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